Since I’ve not done any serious writing in the last four years, I made it my New Year’s Resolution to get back into it with a commitment to sit down to write every day in January. I went into this knowing it would be a challenge but I didn’t know just how big. Here we are at the end of the month and how is my writing going? I’ve not written anything that I haven’t thrown away or tossed into the Draft folder but I’m giving this experiment five stars. Sounds a bit weird, but there’s more to it than just parking your butt in a chair and coming up with some words. This commitment challenged me to face my writing every day with the all important question: Why am I blocked, and how do I fix it?
This question really makes you think, especially if it’s on your mind for a month straight! For the first two weeks I forced myself to sit with my writing for at least an hour every day. This resulted in at least ten posts banished to the Draft Pile, and that was if it was a good writing session. Most days I sat there the entire time with not a single word or idea flowing. it got to a point where I walked away from my computer, but not the commitment. I decided to go try all the writers’ remedies I could find for writer’s block, napping, exercise, baking. I started a book my daughter got me for Christmas and with the beautiful days in the 60s here at the treehouse I spent time out among the trees relaxing. In my experience, I can’t say it was any one thing in particular that worked for me, I believe it all worked together and helped me slow down and calm my mind so I could even get back into the thought of writing.
Once I did that and I was excited once again to get back to writing, I stood back and looked at all the choices I had to work with and realized the only things I have that are complete are the copies of the magazine I used to write for and several books I wrote for the kids when they were small. All other WIPs are incomplete, tucked away in different stages, some more done than others but all of them on hold. In seeing this I found the answer to my block! Off the top of my head I can name at least six projects and I know there are at least that many more. I’m blocked when it comes to writing my novel because I have so many projects that need to be done first. I don’t want to take anything else on when there’s so many things I’ve already started. So cool, I’ll just get started then!
I was excited for all of two days before the block was back. That didn’t last long! But I wasn’t too upset because I saw the cause for this block and saw that it’s an easy fix. Another reason I can’t get any writing done is because I never fully got to unpack my writing boxes when we moved into the house so these unfinished projects are scattered throughout the bedrooms instead of nicely organized in one place. I was tired of searching for things and was quickly frustrated with my writing situation so I spent last weekend making a huge dent in my unpacked mess, happy knowing that when it was done I could finally get back to writing! But as I pieced back together notebooks and folders in piles for each project, I was surprised to feel the block trying to return as I looked at them all! I had no desire to work on any of these projects but instead of walking away I asked myself why. After all, these projects are some of my favorite ones.
Being honest with myself, I don’t want to finish any of these projects because picking any one of them to work on would be bittersweet. Life has changed so much that these projects seem like a lifetime ago. Yes, they were some of the best times of my life, but it’s hard to spend time with memories when they came to an abrupt end. I wasn’t done following these paths, but life had other plans. No matter how much I will enjoy these projects when they are done, it’s going to be a little sad to revisit so many awesome memories. But again, this is a block I can quickly work through because of one simple truth. When I stand back and look at everything in its half-finished state I think about what it will be like for those who have the task of going through my office after I’m gone.
A bit dark, I know. But as a horror writer I can’t help but think about it. For me, just the act of writing is important. It’s not about fame and fortune, just creating. Though I am writing a novel that I will self publish some day, most of my work is photography based and most always handwritten. I like the internet but I don’t like the idea of all my writing just existing there. For me, I want something I can hold in my hands with pages I can turn written in my handwriting. These projects are a piece of me and will someday be all that my family has left of me. With that thought in mind, I don’t want them to go through my room only to discover an unlimited amount of half-done projects. These are stories both made up and real and I don’t want them to die in my head. I want those I love to have something they can cherish and keep with them always. It’s this thought that has finally broken my block.
Yes, I have an awesomely gruesome novel in mind that I will get back to work on later, but first I need to finish what is waiting for me so I can move on with a clean slate and a clear mind. I’m not very creative when my mind is fogged up with everything I haven’t finished yet so I’ve picked my first project and I’m taking it into February with a goal to make some serious headway on it!